George Soros, a left-wing Hungarian billionaire, is bankrolling groups exerting pressure and intimidation campaigns against the two moderate Democratic senators standing in the way of President Biden‘s $3.5 trillion expansion of the federal safety net.
Mr. Soros, a political megadonor who has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to progressive causes and candidates, is the lead financial backer of several advocacy groups that have harassed Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona in recent days.
One of the groups, Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), came under fire this weekend for accosting Ms. Sinema while she was teaching a class at Arizona State University.
Video from the incident, which LUCHA posted online, shows members of the groups harassing the lawmaker for opposing the $3.5 trillion social welfare bill. At some point, members of the group even followed Ms. Sinema into a campus restroom and filmed themselves berating her.
Mr. Soros is one of LUCHA’s prime funders. The left-wing billionaire’s philanthropic arm, the Open Society Foundation, has donated extensively to the group in recent years.
Throughout 2019, the last year for which records are available from the Open Society Foundation, Mr. Soros gave LUCHA nearly $2 million for “policy advocacy.” In 2019, alone, Mr. Soros gave the group $1.5 million.
Neither the Open Society Foundation nor LUCHA responded to requests for comment. LUCHA has publicly defended its harassment of Ms. Sinema, alleging that the lawmaker did not give the group a proper opportunity to make their voices heard.
“Sinema has shown zero interest to engage with her constituents, or meet her colleagues halfway on critical legislation,” the group said in a statement. “Sinema’s constituents have not been granted access to her office, they have been ignored, dismissed, and antagonized.”
Similarly, Mr. Soros is the lead financial backer of the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) Action and CASA de Maryland. Last week, the two groups led a protest in front of Mr. Manchin’s houseboat in Washington.
The protesters, who kayaked to Mr. Manchin’s vessel, demanded that Mr. Manchin concede his objections to the White House’s $3.5 trillion package.
Holding up signs that read “don’t sink West Virginia,” the protesters claimed to be Mr. Manchin’s constituents. Neither CASA de Maryland nor CPD Action has offices within the state.
The groups, however, do rely on Mr. Soros for significant financial backing. Through 2019, Mr. Soros gave CASA de Maryland more than $650,000 for racial and economic justice activism.
In the same time span, Mr. Soros gave CPD Action nearly $3 million for a variety of programs and causes. In 2019 alone, the Open Society Foundation provided the organization with $770,000 in grants.
Neither CASA de Maryland or CPD Action responded to requests for comment on this story.
The confrontations come as Mr. Manchin and Ms. Sinema have refused to back Mr. Biden‘s $3.5 trillion spending package.
Dubbed “human infrastructure,” the bill amounts to a wish list of liberal priorities such as proposals for climate change, tuition-free community college and expanded health care programs.
Democratic leaders say the $3.5 trillion package complements the bipartisan infrastructure bill that focuses on roads, bridges, railways and airports.